Becoming Servant

    “Becoming Servant,” Ensign, Jan. 1987, inside back cover

    Becoming Servant

    At twelve you stand taller,

    my son, my brother,

    with unnatural posture straight

    in a row before the white and simple altar

    of sacrament linen, beneath

    these high windows where Christ’s

    diffusion—through loose-woven curtains—

    falls like a secret

    onto your combed hair.

    This sunlight for halo

    and white shirt for purity

    is your beginning of service:

    clothed in the swordless

    armor of David—the mantle of Aaron—

    large like the coat of your suit

    to grow into.

    With round and somber eyes

    you glide, bearing the polished tray,

    the poured and broken symbols

    of renewal you must yet understand.

    And you gather the offerings from the fast,

    generous secrets from hearts

    in need, for those in want.

    At fourteen, unseen, each tiny cup in place,

    you fill the tray

    from the tap with thin cold stream

    to brim with blessing,

    tip excess and wipe to dry.

    The polished silver glistens

    in the Sabbath light.

    Afterwards you stand

    with your long arms folded,

    a solemn sentinel before the tall

    closed doors of the chapel.

    The suit now fits, Aaronic mantle too,

    as you guard the silence

    of the sacrament sanctuary—such as it is

    in our restless mortal procession.

    Your deepening and uncertain voice rises

    seldom in song, will pray aloud

    beside an elder on a couch.

    At sixteen your large hands,

    washed and clean,

    break symbols that consecrate

    our acts, our thoughts,

    strong hands that reach out

    from the nearly outgrown mantle

    of outward ordinance

    toward the essential higher oath.

    Today you kneel, you sanctify

    with manly tone and cadence

    emblems to a holy purpose.

    Kneel, princely

    brother, before this white remembrance

    to remind us how

    He descended to rise,

    to take us with Him if we will.